Cruise Ship Photography – Equipment and daily work

Cruise Ship Photography - Equipment and daily work

Last updated on May 15th, 2016 at 04:13 pm

Yes, I was able to spend 8 years travelling the world and working as photographer. The best of it is that you can do it as well! How? Working in the cruise ship industry. I suggest to give a read to my previous post. You will find some inspirational stories for you next job 😉

I have been asked quite often about the equipment I used during my cruising life. What camera and lenses? Was the equipment provided by the cruising company? What type of photography is involved? Is studio a big part of it? …and so many more about the printing and selling beside my typical working day


The equipment can vary from company to company, princess and P&O provided cameras & flash equipment & I was using Canon 5d mk2 camera when I left with sb800 flash. We used compact flash cards 8 GB.

All equipment was stowed away in lockers and lighting equipment in locker rooms dotted around the ship, sometimes off passenger corridors.

The lights we used on board for portraits were Elinchrome, plugged into ship power. We used soft boxes for a slightly softer lighting, two in each set up with canvas roll up backdrops with various scenes. Titanic was the favourite amongst the passengers!

We did 3 types of portraits: 1/ formal night family portraits, 2/ casual family portraits/black & white, and theme night portraits using a back drop themed for the night-example pirate night or a green screen where we dropped in various different scenes – example country & western night.


The lab was a high tech environment we used a wet lab print processor which would print about 800 10×8 in 1 hour! The images were loaded onto a computer system and then this was linked to the 2 print processors. All the images were colour corrected and density was changed …if needed! On a formal night we would be printing for at least 6 hours.

The work on the ship

We covered other events on board or on the gangway or quayside. These depended on the cruise itinerary. Welcome aboard photos would be the first of many which we did off the ship just as passengers were about to board & our aim was to capture ALL passengers!! After that we would shoot the sail away party and generally that would be it for the first night. Most quaysides or major ports we would cover also if it was a good location we shot it!

Sometimes we used local people to dress up for the passengers to be in the photograph just to create interest than say a normal gang way image as they stepped off the ship.

We also covered the passengers in the restaurant at night and at least 2 times a cruise!! We and they did not really like this especially the last formal night, they were over us!


Selling the photos

In the gallery we sold all photos taken during the cruise from gangway to event costume nights on board & portraits. The gallery would have all the cruise photos so a 10-14 day cruise there could be 10-14 different days of work on display. Thousands upon thousands of images were taken which we had to sell on a daily basis. We aimed for around 30-35% uptake on most shoots.

Travel Photography Stefano FerroStef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.

Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry. 

Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world. 


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Simon Long
Recently finished working on cruise ships [8 years] as photographer and now living in Melbourne.
I have been in photography most of my life and have seen it change considerably from B/W process & print, too now the digital age.
My 1st photo job after completing college was as a “Camp photographer” at a Butlins holiday camp in south coastal England photographing knobbly knee competitions donkey derby’s and Miss Butlins of the week!

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